Exit Interviews and Winding Down Your APE

Exit Interviews and Winding Down Your APE

Category : PROspective

With the Fall quickly approaching, over the next couple of weeks many rising 2nd year MPH students will be transitioning from their Summer APE projects back to classes, homework, and thesis or capstone research. Throughout the Summer, we have been highlighting many of those exciting APE projects through our #InsideAPE segment in the Confounder, and couldn’t be more proud of the innovative and impactful work our students have been involved with over the last few months. Furthermore, as those APEs come to an end over the next couple weeks, there will be some opportunities for reflection and relationship building that you would be remiss to let pass. In the professional settings, this often takes place through an Exit Interview – and though you probably won’t be having the classic Exit Interview, it is a good exercise to think about some key takeaways from that process and how you can take advantage of those benefits towards the end of your APE.

Ask for feedback

Last year, alumna Elizabeth Hannapel (EPI MPH, 2012) wrote a spectacular PROspective article on Professional Feedback. She highlighted the fact that feedback in the workplace is very different than feedback in the classroom – it requires being proactive and committing to a growth mindset. The Exit Interview is no exception. If your supervisor hasn’t suggested having an Exit Interview, ask for one yourself! During the interview, maintain an open mind and view feedback as an opportunity to grow instead of as a personal affront. You should want to know where your weaknesses lie so that you can spend the next year working to fill those gaps in your skillset. Typically, Exit Interviews are also an opportunity to give feedback to your employer or supervisor directly – but be careful not to complain or vent – keep it focused on the positive and on items that can actually be improved. For more on exit interviews specifically, take a look at this article from Forbes on common pitfalls. 

Develop those relationships

If your APE was with an organization outside of Rollins, chances are that you met a lot of new co-workers and collaborators… virtually. Regardless, individuals you have been working with throughout the summer, including your direct supervisor and even department directors, represent a HUGE opportunity to develop your network. Not so long from now, you will be back in the job market looking for full-time post-graduate work and these individuals already have a good idea of your strengths, weaknesses, and accomplishments. In Getting to ‘Yes’, Dr. Lash talked about how the professional setting is an environment of reciprocation. Ask your supervisor if they would be willing to write recommendations for you in the future and make connections with your co-workers on LinkedIn – but make sure to offer something in return. Developing strong professional relationships takes time and commitment to reciprocating.

Next steps

Your APE doesn’t always end the day you log your 200th hour – often there is still a manuscript getting submitted for publication or maybe even an ongoing, uncontrolled global pandemic. Opportunities may still abound if you are willing (and have bandwidth) to continue with your team in a different capacity. Either way, it is a very good idea to discuss any outstanding action items and make a clear plan for the hand-over of your duties to the rest of the team. When your project ends, you want to leave your team with a good impression of you, and helping them take over your work seamlessly is a great, proactive way to do just that.

At the end of the day, your APE should be a learning opportunity. That includes learning how to apply those soft skills – asking for feedback, developing relationships, and managing transitions. A little bit of effort in these areas will definitely pay off down the road.


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